December 29, 2009

Public Education Foundation comes to fruition
Special to the Review

The recently-formed Athens Public Education Foundation’s board of directors elected its initial officers when it held its second meeting in October.


Recently, plans were finalized as to the activities of the foundation.


The purpose of the organization is set out in its mission statement.


“The Athens Public Education Foundation’s mission is to provide opportunities for excellence in education, promote innovation in teaching, and partner with the community to enhance the quality of education for all students.”


“Most colleges and university have a foundation that helps with the funding of certain things,” Tere Lawyer, marketing and events coordinator for the foundation, said. “This is what we want this foundation to be like. Teachers here need funds for different projects that the school district just does not have the money for. We want to help with that.


”The foundation will be headed its first year by President Charles Tidmore. There are four vice presidents, each of whom will head one of the four standing committees. The four committees are Finance and Administration, chaired by Colin Barrett; Development, Ervin Jenkins; Marketing & Events, Lawyer; and Program, Sarah Grey. Conor Bateman will serve as secretary. The above officers along with Board Member Joe Warren will serve as the executive committee. There are 22 members on the initial board.


Establishment of the foundation got its start in December of 2007. Tidmore attended a graduation ceremony at Texas A&M; University that was followed with an induction of the graduates into the school’s alumni foundation.


Tidmore said that at the time the Athens class of 1968 was working on plans for its reunion in ’08. He thought it would be helpful if Athens High had a similar organization that could keep up with members of all the classes and help with reunions and other events and serve the school in other ways. He talked with Bateman, Jenkins, and Lawyer, about an Athens based foundation.


Athens graduate Blake Armstrong, now an attorney in Tyler, had served on the Tyler ISD foundation and shared that knowledge in the information gathering phase of the process. Bateman contacted the UIL in Austin and existing foundations in other communities to learn about the steps necessary to form a foundation in Athens. The group traveled to Hutto, near Austin, to meet with officers of that community’s foundation.


Bateman, who is a partner with his father in the law firm of Bateman & Bateman, and J. W. Lambright of Smith, Lambright Associates, PC CPAs, prepared and submitted the lengthy application for the necessary IRS designation of the Foundation as a non-profit 501 (c) (3) entity. Upon receiving that, the Foundation applied for and received a grant from the Texas Pioneer Foundation in San Marcos, which supports community efforts to establish foundations to help local schools. The grant provided funds that enabled the Athens group to secure the services of consultant Milli Christner Ph.D., with the firm Foundation Innovation, headquartered in Buda, Texas. She has worked closely with those organizing the foundation and now meets with the board which will hold meetings monthly.


Once funds have been secured, the Program Committee will administer a grant application and award system that will allow educators at all grade levels to apply for funds to improve the educational process. Such grants can fund a wide variety of activities, such as Outdoor Science Projects, Mathematics Lab projects, Art projects that involve Math fundamentals; Jenkins’ Development Committee will be in charge of raising funds.


The general public, alumni, businesses, foundations and others will be asked to support the foundation. Early plans indicate the major effort at fund raising will be in the fall each year. The Marketing & Events Committee headed by Lawyer, will decide on possible events to honor students and faculty or others, plan events to build interest in and support for the foundation and creating a greater awareness of the foundation and its goals.


The Finance and Administration Committee, headed by Barrett, will be responsible for investing the foundation’s funds, maintaining records, seeing that the organization follows its by-laws, providing legal guidance and in other ways serving in an administrative capacity.The First Fundraiser has been set for Feb. 27, at the Athens Country Club. It will be the “Second Chance Prom” with the well known band from Dallas, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” playing.


For ticket information please call: 903-676-2023.


The board’s next meeting will be at 4 p.m. in the meeting room at Prosperity Bank on Jan. 9. -